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back to article At LAST, scientists tackle the problems faced by alcoholic rats

Scientists have grown an artificial rat kidney in the laboratory, heralding an era when humans can replace their own knackered organs with off the shelf stand-ins. Boffins at Massachusetts General Hospital used a technique which had previously been used to create fully working hearts, lungs and liver tissue. They first took a …

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Anonymous Coward

Several points

1) I would think a rat with a drinking problem would be more in need of a liver than a kidney.

2) This still requires you to have a kidney to provide the scaffolding. Thus, it won't stop the need for donors - only reduce the need for recipients to be on immunosuppressant drugs.

3) If we could figure out how to print the needed scaffolding, rather than needing an organ, THEN this would be great, unless....

4) Since this uses the patient's own cells, if the reason their organs are failing is a genetic issue, they will be getting an organ with the same failure, unless we can work out how to treat the cells beforehand to remove the genetic flaw.

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Re: Several points

Re points 2 and 3 - a lot of kidneys that are available for transplant are not suitable. If all goes well these can be taken and converted into scaffolding and then we can grow the working kidney.

We still need more kidneys!

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Happy

Re: Several points

"1) I would think a rat with a drinking problem would be more in need of a liver than a kidney."

True. Although I'm not sure if rats, like humans only have 1 liver & 2 kidneys.

"2) This still requires you to have a kidney to provide the scaffolding. Thus, it won't stop the need for donors - only reduce the need for recipients to be on immunosuppressant drugs."

Actually it will. The original kidney template could be provided by the patient (after all the bulk of its function is not working) alternatively any old roughly matching sized kidney can do the job, including one from a recently deceased.

"3) If we could figure out how to print the needed scaffolding, rather than needing an organ, THEN this would be great, unless...."

Some versions of this already exist. You may remember a rat with an ear on it's back. The fact it just needs a roughly (not necessarily living) template opens up the field a lot.

"4) Since this uses the patient's own cells, if the reason their organs are failing is a genetic issue, they will be getting an organ with the same failure, unless we can work out how to treat the cells beforehand to remove the genetic flaw.""

Not necessarily.

AFAIK this work use embryo stem cells, so the default source is nothing to do with the donor of the cells. However at least some organs seem to be growable from so-called "precursor" cells (heart cells are an example) which appear to be a half way house between stem and fully differentiated cell types.

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Happy

Re: Several points - Correction Needed

Non modified rats will not drink alcohol. You have to overdose them with certain neural transmitters to make them drink booze.

Just an interesting tidbit I thought I would share.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Several points

Re: Tom 7:

Agreed: this might allow organs that were otherwise unsuitable to be used as scaffolding - but what I would NOT want to see happen is people saying "Well, if they can do that, then they don't need ME to be a donor!".

So we are in violent agreement on that: "We still need more kidneys!"

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Anonymous Coward

Rats don't drink?

@Don Jefe: "Non modified rats will not drink alcohol."

Source? After all, so many animals will drink (elephants getting their buzz on with fermented fruit, etc.) that it seems odd rats won't drink.

"Wot are we going to do tonight, Brain?"

"The same thing we do every night, Pinky: I'll get totally morose and drunk over my repeated failure to take over the world, while you sing karaoke."

"But I don't have $5 - how will I afford Don't Stop Believing?"

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Happy

Re: Rats don't drink?

There are several sources out there. I learned about it in university. They are common test subjects in alcohol addiction studies because they don't drink unless they've been modified.

The basic premise is that the researchers overload the rat neuoreceptors with the same neurotransmitters found in alcoholic brains (making them alcoholics) then attempt to unlock those transmitters with drugs. In alcoholic brains the transmitters in question remain stuck in the receptors and the hypothesis is that if you can dislodge or destroy the transmitters you can cure alcoholism. So far they've only managed to create rats with insanely high tolerances who die from alcohol poisoning without getting drunk or terminally disabled rats with brains fried from exotic chemicals.

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Joke

Re: We still need more kidneys!

Well, you can't have mine! I'm not done with it yet.

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Re: Several points

"Although I'm not sure if rats, like humans only have 1 liver & 2 kidneys"

Yup, rodents have one liver and two kidneys. Actually, most vertebrates are the same way. Snakes are more modified, given the constraints of space.

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Pint

Re: Rats don't drink?

"Wot are we going to do tonight, Brain?"

"The same thing we do every night, Pinky: I'll get totally morose and drunk over my repeated failure to take over the world, while you sing karaoke."

"But I don't have $5 - how will I afford Don't Stop Believing?"

You forgot the "NARF!" at the end. Other than that well played, good sir!

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Re: Several points @John Smith

"I'm not sure if rats, like humans only have 1 liver & 2 kidneys."

As far as I know, the basic organ configuration is the same for all mammals.

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It's getting there

Man-made skin, blood vessels, bones, and now kidneys and brain cells*!

Soon some wacko in a run down castle in Eastern Europe will be heard shouting "IT'S ALIVE, IT'S ALIVE! ALIVE!

*Read the article on BBC yesterday, The Reg should have an article by next week.

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Pint

Let a thousand frat parties boom!!

Not exactly the idea that Nietzsche had when talking about the "über-human", but one takes what one gets in this universe. P ≠ NP etc...

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Pint

Re: Let a thousand frat parties boom!!

Party on dude.

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THE PROBLEMS FACED BY ALCOHOLIC RATS

I always thought the problem was that they couldn't get served in pubs - that's why they're always hanging round outside in the alley.

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Pint

Let a thousand rat parties bloom!!

Rats lurv science!

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Joke

Opening Tommorow...

Acme spare human parts. Big selection. Custom orders OK.

Deliveries to Wile E. Coyote available.....

Beep Beep....

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Happy

I knew an alcoholic rat. His (ex) wife was a bit miffed that woman he went with was as ugly as sin itself - said she could have almost forgiven him if the bitch was pretty.

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i want 10 rodent kidneys in addition to my human kidneys.

never hurts to have backup

how much?

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Paging Zaphod Beelbebrox

I need a third arm so that I can [drink] more easilty while I type.

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Go

Re: Paging Zaphod Beelbebrox

Actually, if they develop it a bit further to the production of bone and muscle, new limbs may be a prospect.

That'd be something that would make many an amputee very happy indeed.

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Wasn't quite as good...

5% efficency is a bit less than 'wasn't quite as good', but it is a great start. If this can be developed to deliver more efficency (iirc somewhere around 15% would suffice) and be done at a sane price (i.e. kept away from drug companies) then it could help a lot of people!

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Pint

Finally, someone thinks of drinking rats!

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Are rat kidneys tasty?

Are they nice devilled?

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Alert

Re: Are rat kidneys tasty?

I'd have thought that the fact that they're full of rat piss would be a shade offputting.

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Re: Are rat kidneys tasty?

So lamb piss is OK. Just not rat?

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Happy

who needs human donors?

Pig kidneys are probably close enough in size (and all mammalian kidneys will have almost the same basic structure) to serve as a scaffold. No point waiting for people to pop their clogs when you can get your consumables at the butcher's.

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Good stuff, wheres the livers?

Now they just need to to start growing Livers as well. The only thing that bums me out about this is that by the time I will Probably need a kidney or a liver. It still wont be a practical affordable medical technology for the masses.

For those not in the know, a large majority of medications uses for treating chronic illnesses like auto immune diseases and cancer. Are particularly hard on the kidney and liver. Often resulting in additional medical problems related to the two organs. For those diagnosed at an early age this is a real problem when it comes to treatment and quality of life.

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At last! May I be the first to say...

... Will no one think of the rats?!?

Triumph is sweet!

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